Federal program enables Ivory Porter to live independently again

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By David Pierini

Staff Photographer

It took the turn of a key to make Ivory Porter feel human again.

The key opened the door to his own furnished apartment. The door that shut behind him was on eight years of living in a nursing home.

Porter returned to greater independence, thanks to a federal program that provides subsidies for non-elderly disabled individuals who live in skilled nursing facilities but want to return to the community.

Sitting at a dining table overlooking a plush new couch, he clasped his hands and cried.

"It's like a new beginning," said Porter, 53. "My life is starting fresh."

Porter was selected by the Oak Park Residence Corporation (OPRC) in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Progress Center for Independent Living. The Oak Park Housing Authority, which partners with OPRC, has received 15 housing vouchers to be used to support similar transitions.

According to a federal study, housing a person in the community costs one-third less than the average annual cost of Medicaid spending on nursing home care.

Waiting for Porter when he left the Elmwood Care nursing center in December was a two-bedroom apartment with electronic entry system, accessible bathroom with roll-in shower and accessible kitchen. He also had furniture, appliances, utilities and money for grocery shopping and was able to choose personal assistants who help him get in and out of bed.

The Progress Center helped Porter — who is unable to walk because of a bad back — with the move and to get settled in his new home.

"The program has been very successful," said Art Johnson, home services coordinator for the Progress Center. "People are always calling and saying thanks for the work we've done. This gives them freedom; this gives them life. I have consumers who are very happy once they get back into the swing of things."

Porter is finding the rhythm of his new life. He is excited to cook again, rekindling a love that dates back to when he once owned his own barbecue business. He wants to entertain guests, especially his brothers.

More simply, Porter likes setting his own schedule. He has had hassles in getting Internet service, his prescriptions and finding a new doctor. But being able to solve his own problems is part of the independence he now relishes.

"There are obstacles but they're still not going to discourage me from being here," he said. "I want to be free."

Contact:
Email: david@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

7 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Ro from Jersey Bloomfield  

Posted: September 21st, 2014 6:30 PM

God bless you bro I'm about todo the same thing pray for me that this all happens with no problems at all blessings Ro

WOW from Oak Park  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 9:03 AM

God needs to teach "you" people how to spellz.

ROSE BENNETT from Chicago  

Posted: February 25th, 2013 7:35 PM

HEY BROTHER, THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL ARTICAL, (HAPPYTEARS)...CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW APARTMENT & JOURNEY, I KNOW IT'S BEEN A STRUGGLE FOR U, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR USE TO BEING ON YOUR OWN & AFTER LOSING YOUR MOM, BUT I CAN SAY THIS, U NEVER GAVE UP, U HUNG IN THERE, U ALWAYS KEPT THE FAITH..I AM SOO HAPPY FOR U & PROUD OF U ~ I KNOW YOUR MOM IS SMILING DOWN ON U...GOD IS GOOD ~ GOD IS EVERYTHING & EVERYTHING IS GOD!!! WITH THE FAITH IN GOD U CAN FIGHT ANY OBSTACLES THAT COME YOUR WAY!!! LOVE U :))

Sheila Martin from Chicago  

Posted: February 22nd, 2013 11:51 AM

I'm so Happy for you Ivory .we met bout 4 yrs ago at the Senior Center@unity . From the first day we met we've been friends.day one he said to me I'm getting out the nursing home n u gonna be my nurse , I said ok:) Mr. Porter never stop trying . He did everything that he was told to do to get back to independent living. He worked hard with Social Worker and did what it took to get back to living Independent. I'm so happy for him he Never Gave up. Ok I can go on all day about ivory aka Big Daddy

konisha gary from north chicago  

Posted: February 21st, 2013 8:42 PM

AWWW IVORY I'M SOOOOO HAPPY FOR U!!!!@ GOD BLESS MUAH!!!

brenda matthews from Rock Island, IL  

Posted: February 21st, 2013 7:54 PM

My first words are THANK YOU LORD! This is a BIG BLESSING. A long time coming. Ivory and I go back about 25 yrs.. He has always been a very strong minded person, and independent. And to learn that he was in the nursing home crush my heart. But knowing that their is a God, he called me on day and Brenda, I'm home. Thank you LORD. I told him just as soon as I get my car fix, I will be there for him. I'm still hoping for that ring. Thank God for the program.

Jason Geil from Oak Park  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 10:45 AM

Nice job, David. I particularly like the photo of Mr. Porter decorating his Christmas tree. Thank you for telling a worthy story.

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